Predicting the future is certainly something that is impossible to do (even if you own a DeLorean). Especially in these times at the moment that are led by digitalization, electrification and autonomy, it has become even more challenging to see where the future will lead us. This is a small collection of ideas, predictions and suggestions of a lot of conversation with thought leaders, design responsible and my personal observations on which changes we could expect in the mobility and transportation design industry in the coming 10 years.
The uprising of car brands that are not manufacturers anymore
Building a vehicle is not just a very complex and multifaceted task but it is also quite expensive. However, with companies such as Volkswagen opening up their EV platform to companies who are outside the VW Group, we can clearly see that there are new business models that are currently being explored. Is it likely we will see a Hermes-luxury hyper car that is based on a Bugatti platform? Or maybe a Lufthansa-vehicle that is based on BMW or Mercedes platform? Or even an Amazon delivery vehicle based on a Rivian platform…wait, this is already in the making. Strong brands, some who are already in the mobility sector and some who are not, will explore these options. Of course, this raises a question: Who will design such vehicles? Will it be the brand’s internal design department? The manufacturers' design team (similar to the Rivian/Amazon project) or maybe even an external party? In any way, we need to continue to ask the question: Who will be in the lead on mobility design in the future? The brand or the manufacturer or maybe even someone completely different?
The Carrozzeria will be back…just a bit different
When you speak to car designs, you will always find that a majority of them have a very strong affinity of the “Carrozzeria” from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Companies such as Pininfarina, Ghia and Bertone as well as masters such as Gandini and Giugiaro were commissioned by the manufacturer to style and design the bodies of their new vehicles. We currently see the beginnings of a resurgence of the Carozzeria however in a slightly different way. Cars such as the new Stratos were built on commission by wealthy individuals based on an already existing car and without any connection to the manufacturer. There are numerous other examples but with the need for exclusive and unique products within the car world, we will continue to see more and more one-offs or small series productions being produced based on an existing platform. The design itself can be created from scratch, as a homage (like the Stratos) or even something as exquisite as a Singer Porsche. But one thing will not change compared to 60 years ago: It will still need impeccable design skills and knowledge to make these projects successful and survive over time.
Welcome back Freelance Designers, you’ll be the future of creativity
Let’s face it: in a corporate environment there will always be pressure on saving costs and design will not be spared. Looking into these developments in a bit more detail, we will, of course, have to ask the question on how to save money and often times this will start with the personnel. How many people will we really need as fix and permanent members of staff in the future to really work on the USP and IP of the company? Where can a company get flexibility, adjustability and new ideas from without committing right away for potential lifetime employment and actually chose who the person they’d like to support them? Sooner or later we will see the resurgence of the freelance designer – mainly to bring creativity into a project or brand. This can be someone straight out of university or with years and years of experience. There are plenty of designers who have no ambition to move into any leadership or management positions, they simply want to be creative and generate ideas. Often times they are not given the option to continue a creative expert route in the companies and the way our society develops, the choice and flexibility of who to work with and for how long is becoming more and more important in these coming years and generations.
It should be said that these 3 ideas should not be taken as gospel. These are simply ideas to be shared, discussed, argued and even dismissed. But they are here have you thinking about where we all move towards in the near future and how we will all have to adapt, some more, some less, to enjoy what you love doing.